Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Boniface uses things he has seen, heard and observed whilst delivering the mail to record snapshots of everyday life and ordinary people in West Yorkshire. In some ways akin to the work of photographers such as Martin Parr and Tom Wood, who present a particular version of England and its people (often Northern), his vignettes elevate the minutiae of life in Huddersfield momentarily to the status of art. Written in a conversational tone, sometimes this appears in a style similar to short stories and sometimes simply as lists of objects and experiences. We remarked how the writing style is non-judgemental of the people and places it references (though it is sometimes possible to read a wry humour just below the surface), and does not seem to belong in any particular genre – although Sara said the style reminded her of Christopher Isherwood. Many of the posts are also accompanied by single-shot, one-viewpoint videos which add visual imagery to Boniface's observations. We talked about how delivering the post enables Boniface to fit both work and artistic production into his life, and how the two could feed into each other, mentioning another postman who found his day job to be rich source material for his writing, Charles Bukowski, as a literary precedent.
We also discussed the unique relationship between members of the public and people performing services such as delivering the post, and the fact that for a few seconds of every day these semi-strangers become part of your private domain. Although you may feel that you get to know someone such as a postman on some level because of the routine of seeing them at the same time every day, in reality it is a relationship that exists almost entirely on the surface, with interaction essentially limited to 'hello' or 'thank you'. We each added examples from our own experiences such as having a paper round, doing building work and having plumbers in the house. Sometimes these relationships can be rewarding – being able to walk up driveways and garden paths normally off-limits, seeing glimpses into other people's houses and how they live, getting Christmas boxes from old people – and sometimes awkward – not knowing how to act around other people who are present in the house for a long period of time, in whose expertise one has placed one's trust to provide a service. We wondered whether the members of the public Boniface mentions and makes small observations about are aware that he draws on his post round as inspiration – perhaps from publicity relating to Boniface's stature as a writer (he won a Blog North award in 2012 ) – and said this would make us feel self-conscious!
Jared suggested that Boniface's artwork, which partly takes the form of collages based from lines from his blog, might benefit from being shown in a venue other than a gallery, perhaps in a more everyday environment. Suggestions put forward were a post office or sorting depot, or the SHED gallery on an allotment in Levenshulme. Sara remembered seeing an Artangel exhibition in a former sorting office in London a few years ago, and recalled the sense of suspense and surprise created by the space, however Natalie and Lisa, who had visited the 2012 Liverpool Biennial venue on Copperas Hill, a former Royal Mail depot, felt that the atmosphere and characteristics of the building, although now disused, overshadowed some of the work.
We discussed the possibility of asking Boniface to join us as a guest at one of our crits, and making links with artists and other creative groups in the West Yorkshire area.
Sunday, 21 April 2013
Present were Natalie Bradbury, Maurice Carlin via Skype, Rachel Goodyear, Sara Nesteruk, Rachel Newsome, Lisa Risbec, Lauren Velvick, Jenny Walden, Jen Wu.
Four presentations were given by Lauren, myself, Rachel and Rachel.
1. Lauren Velvick
blog of the project.
Lauren spoke about her uncle's schizophrenia, how it had affected his formal art training and his painting. She explained that the blog is not curated, and is an attempt to get the painting into a situation where they are seen. She described the collection of around 200 paintings on card and canvas, including some religious works and self portraits.
There was some discussion about Lauren's intentions for the works, how they might be exhibited and whether or not they would be sold. Lauren spoke about sorting the work into themes or a series, possible venues for exhibiting, and the possibility of raising money for a housing association that had helped her uncle. The Museum of Everything was suggested as a point of reference and interest.
I spoke about the subject matter for the new film, which will tell the story of the Ukrainian famines in the early 1930's. Research will be collected initially by collecting bread recipes from elderly Ukrainian people. I talked about my own interest and connection with the material, and the link with the previous film.
We discussed approaches to storytelling, including a reference to Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. The relationship between form and content was discussed, and the possibilities and significance of working with bread as a metaphor. Suggestions were given about accessing Ukrainian communities in northern Manchester, and a possible residency application was discussed.
Rachel spoke about the scale of the new work, which is much larger than usual, and the challenges and opportunities this was presenting. The discovery of a new process of working was described, using collages of smaller drawings. She described the themes of her work in general as an interest in the macabre, but also a celebration of life, a balance between the beautiful and the gory.
We talked about the themes behind Rachel's pieces, and work by Piero della Francesca was suggested as a possible reference. The new technique that Rachel is using reminded her of using sticker books in her childhood, and this idea resonated with the group. The subtleties of the process were discussed, and the possibilities it may provide for some performance based practice.
Rachel described her works in general as stories that have an allegorical aspect, and talked of an interest in creating other worldly environments. She explained that the title was inspired by a Kafka quote, and she described the symbolism of the clothes in the story. The main character was described as an artist going on journey, searching for a truth.
The group talked about the pleasure of listening to stories being read aloud, and Rachel mentioned another project she is involved in called Don't Tell Stories. The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol was mentioned as a reference and suggested as a possible future text for a reading group. Some discussion was had around the meaning of colour in the story, and the use of clothes to construct or deconstruct identity.
Thursday, 21 March 2013
We agreed that we would be interested in reading more writing by Jung in future, for example about dreams as well as other archetypes. It was suggested that Man and His Symbols could be a good starting point as it is accessible, and that there are some good three minute videos on Youtube by scholars of Jungian theory.
Sunday, 17 March 2013
|Lauren Velvick, Sara Nesteruk, Maurice Carlin, Natalie Bradbury and Lisa Risbec|
It was really interesting reading the text together and raised discussions around many aspects including; the naming of things, if you name something does that mean it's taken more seriously? Being radical for the sake of it versus being useful. The common factor of these schools - is it connections and community? Do you need to attend a physical space to experience that or does it happen online too? We also discussed participatory art, and the artists role/ motivation in it.
We didn't come to any firm conclusions but it's a topic that I would definitely like to pick up in the future, I find the all of the alternative schools interesting in their own way and think there are definitely elements we could incorporate into the Art Academy.
Saturday, 16 March 2013
Whilst I am not an artist and therefore don't have a practice as such, I thought that the Art Academy open crit might be a good time to practice a talk I have been working on called 'Woman's Outlook: A surprisingly modern magazine?', which I am going to be doing at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum next Thursday evening (21 March). I really needed a run-through as I have never spoken in public before.
I started by explaining that the magazine Woman's Outlook was published by the Co-operative Press between 1919 and 1967 along with a number of other specialist magazines aimed at the co-operative movement. I explained that my interest in magazines is partly linked to publishing my own zine, the Shrieking Violet, as well as my love of twentieth century history and interest in Manchester's historical reputation as the 'Fleet Street of the North' (Woman's Outlook was based first in Manchester city centre, then in Old Trafford). I spent several days reading through volumes of Woman's Outlook in the National Co-operative Archive in Manchester and found it really hard to focus my findings down because of the amount of interesting information I found! However, I decided to discuss the ways in which I thought Woman's Outlook was modern as a magazine – firstly, because I think that much of the content, such as recipes, fashion, fiction and articles about issues affecting women, isn't that different to the subjects covered in women's magazines today; second, because many of the challenges facing society today, such as unemployment, lack of affordable housing and challenges to women's reproductive rights, are worryingly similar to those experienced in the early-to-mid-twentieth century; and finally because the magazine's political and editorial stance appeared to be ahead of its time on a number of issues such as abortion, family planning and divorce.
I had initially tried to make a powerpoint to present my talk, but really struggled so decided to go back to what I knew and present the history of Woman's Outlook and some of the key themes which emerged in the form of a magazine. I then showed some examples of pages from the only modern-day women's magazine I read, Stylist, to show what sorts of topics are thought to be important to women today. Each person who was present at the crit was given a copy of my magazine about Woman's Outlook, and I also projected the pages of the magazine digitally via PDF hosting site Issuu, which allowed me to flick through the pages as I talked.
Whilst the audience was quite different to the one I am expecting at my talk – who I am anticipating will have more of a specialist interest/prior knowledge of the co-operative movement and its history – the crit was a really good opportunity to practice public speaking, and gain feedback on how I presented my ideas. People who heard the talk seemed to be really interested in the history of the magazine, and some of the themes I highlighted such as the shift towards a consumer society in the 1950s, higher living standards and the move towards individualism also prompted some good questions about things such as advertising and a really interesting discussion about the role of male/female-targeted magazines today. Of particular interest was the way in which the co-operative women's movement was a means of self-education; something that as members of the Art Academy we are all interested in! We discussed the lack of emphasis today on skills such as public speaking, which the co-operative women's movement aimed to instill in its members.
One pertinent suggestion was that the type of feminist viewpoint espoused by Woman's Outlook is now seen more on blogs such as Jezebel and the F-Word than in printed magazines; unlike magazines, most blogs are not dependent on advertising to remain in print and therefore do not have to avoid being too controversial. Importantly, we discussed the extent to which Woman's Outlook and present-day magazines such as Stylist are really comparable – although some of the content may appear similar on the surface, there are key differences. Woman's Outlook was a mouthpiece for politics and campaigning, whereas Stylist's occasional investigative and issues-based content mask the fact it is really just one big advert for consumer lifestyles. Additionally, Woman's Outlook was paid-for and had a very defined audience, whereas Stylist is handed out free. I also took on board some comments such as showing bigger versions of pictures of pages/covers from Woman's Outlook.
Jen Wu: 'The Wall'
We then returned to more of an art-based discussion, as Manchester-based artist Jen Wu presented and projected images of her ongoing project 'The Wall'. Jen has been awarded money from the Chinese Arts Centre and Henry Moore Foundation and is currently in the process of applying for Arts Council funding to realise the project, which aims to stabilise a brick wall on the derelict Old Bank Theatre on Chapel Street, Salford which is due to be knocked down along with a number of other buildings as part of the ongoing regeneration of the area. It is hoped that one redbrick wall will be retained, then bricklayers and members of the local community will be invited to help dismantle it and rebuild it elsewhere in the vicinity in an act of 'creative DIY', accompanied by celebratory 'rave' parties (this references Jen's past projects, which have involved working with musicians and DJs). The wall will function as a public sculpture, but could also be the first wall of something longer-lasting, for example a new facility like a community centre. The focus of the project is not just on demolition, but action and rebuilding, a cycle of activity that will show how people can physically change their area and celebrate the past at the same time as looking to the future.
Jen, who arrived in Manchester in 2011 to undertake a residency at the Chinese Art Centre, described the evolution of her practice, from getting into sculpture during her undergraduate degree in the United States to moving to the United Kingdom to do a Masters, starting temporarycontemporary, a successful artist-led space in Deptford, south London and then transforming the visitor experience of some of London's established art institutions such as the ICA and Royal Academy by, for example, turning the ICA into a nightclub. Jen traced key events in her development as an artist, including going to China on residency and becoming interested in the way industry had been transported to China, as well as influences such as music and American land art.
When she came to Manchester, Jen started researching the history of former Manchester landmarks, now demolished, such as the Hacienda nightclub (now rebuilt as apartments) and the notorious Hulme Crescents, once the venue for famous parties, becoming interested in narratives of regeneration, demolition and starting over again. She started to document the demolition of buildings, a process she describes as 'looking like warfare', and became interested in the way sites acquired value when solid matter such as buildings had disappeared. One such building was the former Salvation Army centre Stella Maris near Islington Mill in Salford, where Jen got to know the demolition crew and the security guard, who let her take bricks from the demolition of the building. This led to Jen taking numerous buses around Salford to look at various walls, and realising how much of Salford is made of brick.
Jen explained that she is interested in the ways in which spaces where people used to come together, such as nightclubs, have been destroyed, and thought that moving a wall would be a way to bring people together at the same time as acknowledging the DIY spirit operating in places such as Islington Mill. She explained that the project is constantly shifting, and sometimes seems impossible, but she doesn't think it could take place anywhere else. The Chapel Street buildings are due to be demolished soon, but Jen hopes that the project can coincide with Manchester International Festival in July, when events will also be taking place at the Mill. Jen's past career was an important part of the way in which the project was presented to the group, and we discussed how Jen should bring this development of her practice out in her application for funding. We also noted that there are a diverse range of people living and working in the area around Chapel Street, from council residents to tenants of new flats and artists working at the Mill.
Friday, 1 March 2013
Present: Lauren Velvick, Marcelle Holt, Natalie Bradbury, Maurice Carlin, Sara Nesteruk and Hannah Leighton Boyce.
The essay itself is much jollier, and more flowery than many of us expected from Adorno, poetically expressing the often subtle, yet indispensible function of punctuation for the written word. Initially, it seemed like it was the writers in the group who had enjoyed this essay the most, perhaps finding a cameraderie in this indulgently in-depth analysis of, and story about these marks, which can make all the difference to a piece of writing regardless of it's content.
By having had our attention focussed on punctuation in general, the discussion turned to the most common ways in which we write in our every-day lives. Leading to questions about how punctuation is used in social media such as twitter, and other short communications. Marcelle, who had performed research into twitter, in terms of the performance of identity for her undergraduate dissertation, recognised how some users are better at tweeting than others. What, we wondered, made a good tweeter, and would they also be considered to be a good writer, by dint of their twitter skills?
It was noted how within text messages, when they first became a ubiquitous form of communication, punctuation was famously abandoned in favour of a form of written language in which many, if not most words were shortened, for essentially practical reasons. Text messages are also private, which can be seen to remove the performative element associated with twitter, however, anecdotal evidence suggests that with certain of our peers, there would be a performative element to text messages, whereby they would function as banter, or a form of 'jamming'. Good writing, it seems, is appreciated no matter its form, and a perceptive use of punctuation is an integral part of this.
Adorno refers to punctuation marks as "friendly spirits whose bodiless presence nourishes the body of language" linking their use in written language, to how written music is punctuated to indicate the length of notes and breaks. Indeed, how punctuation is used by a writer alters the pace and flow of a text, and Adorno's analysis here is quite beautiful. His characterisation of individual punctuation marks also belies a sort-of wistful affection for these abstract and dispensable - as we have seen in the case of text messages - marks, which may be overlooked for their importance in enriching a piece of writing with mood and subtle meanings.
"An exclamation point looks like an index finger raised in warning; a question mark looks like a flashing light or the blink of an eye. A colon, says Karl Krais, opens its mouth wide: woe to the writer who does not fill it with something nourishing. Visually, the semicolon looks like a drooping moustache; I am even more aware of its gamey taste. With self-satisfied peasant cunning, German quotation marks (« ») lick their lips."(p. 1)
|"a drooping moustache"|
Sunday, 20 January 2013
Art Academy reading group: Art and uneven development's cause is one: reflections on art and 'regeneration', Susan Fitzpatrick
Thursday, 3 January 2013
Rachel Goodyear presented experiments into new ways of displaying small drawings.
In the photograph below Rachel talks about a piece which she has installed for the first time here; a spindly, many-limbed branch protruding from the wall, with several small drawings skewered at particular, meaningful points.
We discussed what was unexpected about the piece as a physical object, as opposed to existing in the Artists' plans and imagination. The coincidental circumstance of light emanating from several points in the room created a 'shadow drawing', mirroring the three dimensional form of the branch in flat grey on the wall.
Maurice Carlin presented further developments of his practice involving hung paper and plaster casting with fabric moulds.
The sculpture in the forefront of the photograph below produced visceral reactions; a mysteriously textured and surprisingly fuzzy object, restrained on it's board with tape and string. Our reactions to this piece; confusion, disgust, laughter, and storytelling, engendered discussions around ways of looking, particularly how to look without trying too hard to understand and archive.
Lisa Risbec presented her research into the stubborn growth of wild flowers and plants in urban environments.
A collection of research consisting of pressed specimines and photographs, documented the wild plants which flourish on inner city wastelands. Lisa's discussion of her practice inspired an exchange of research methods, with agreement on the importance of physically 'trying things out', if only to avoid drowning in un-tested ideas.
Jen Wu also took us on an unexpected field trip to talk about a piece of public art work that she is planning, involving the preservation of a particular wall on Chapel Street against imminent demolition and regeneration.
Saturday, 29 December 2012
Sunday, 28 October 2012
We also touched on the authenticity of artworks, and what it means for an artwork to be copied and reproduced, and the particular implications of this for installations.
Friday, 21 September 2012
Open crits were restarted again today at Islington Mill. We were joined by John Wallbank who has been artist in residence at the mill over the past month. John talked about the work he had produced over the course of the residency.
Rosanne Robertson presented a new video work, 'Selected Sound: Painting by Eye, Music by Ear' plus a 'sketch' for another film work.
Lauren Velvick presented her research and ideas for an upcoming exhibition and series of events she is co-organising entitled 'Hoist by their own Petard' which forms part of the Free for Arts festival.
Sunday, 2 September 2012
|Issue 149, September 2012|
Monday, 2 July 2012
Thursday, 29 March 2012
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
We were joined at the open crit yesterday by artists Alison Ward and Shane Heinemier from Flux Factory arts space in New York. Alison and Shane have been taking part in an exchange residency set up by Islington Mill and local artist Tom Watson. Tom is in New York at the moment working at Flux Factory while Shane and Alison have been in residence here at the mill. Flux Factory began in 1994 as an informal collective with a mission to provide an alternative to the commercial art landscape in NY at the time. Today, it occupies a 3 story former card factory in Queens and provides studios for up to 30 artists of which approx. 16 are artists in residence from around the world.
Thursday, 14 July 2011
Monday, 6 June 2011
Friday, 29 April 2011
Ben Davies will be debuting a new performance collage work tomorrow, Sat 30th April at the launch of the Text Festival Ben will be up at the Transport Museum in Bury from 11am till 4pm. The show at the Transport Museum is curated by Philip Davenport and also includes works by Alec Finlay and Bob Cobbing. Get along if you can, the line up for the festival sounds amazing and includes an appearance by US L=A=N=G=U=A=G= E poet Ron Silliman and the first UK performance from Canadian virtuoso poet Christian Bok.
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
We are featured in a new report in A-N magazine on alternative art schools. You can read it here: http://www.a-n.co.uk/publications/topic/1145371
Tuesday, 1 March 2011
This Thursday at Islington Mill as part of our regular Say Something Series:
Lorena Rivero de Beer will talk about The Free University of Liverpool, a protest against the current situation in HE and a laboratory to explore new models of transmitting knowledge. She will discuss how it came about, the paradoxical space where it stands and the challenges they confront. Please come along if you would like to join the protest, create a Free University where you live or enroll in The Free University of Liverpool Foundation Degree that will start October 2011.
A performance artist, writer and producer Lorena Rivero de Beer recently completed a Phd exploring the relationship between cultural politics, representation, aesthetics and subjectivity. Collaborating with The Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home (Lena Simic and Gary Anderson) Lorena has initiated The Free University of Liverpool. Billed as a protest against the recent tuition fee increases and cuts to university budgets The Free University of Liverpool states it has been developed to provide FREE education for any student who is keen to study. Believing that critical thought and action are at the heart of changing the world we live in, The Free University aims to teach about and practice cultural activism.